A Teenage Suspect in a Triple Murder
But it now appears Kreider may have been the one person not shocked by the identity of the murderer. On June 16 local police announced that he had been arrested for the killings—in which 20-year-old Margaret Haines was the only member of her family to escape alive, by fleeing the house (PEOPLE, June 11)—and would be tried as an adult on three counts of homicide. According to authorities, Kreider had confessed to his father, Timothy Kreider, who apparently waited two days before relaying the information to investigators. The elder Kreider also turned over the knife allegedly used in the attack. A police affidavit said that the crime was not a burglary gone wrong but rather a case of cold-blooded murder, with Kreider originally intending to smother Kevin. "The evidence in this case will establish that it was a premeditated, deliberate killing," said District Attorney Donald Totaro, "not a random act."
What authorities did not offer was a motive for the crime. Classmates of Kevin and Kreider say they got along exceptionally well, eating lunch together almost every day, and that there were no signs of recent friction. "They were best friends," says Humbard. "They were always joking around, always laughing with each other." But in spite of their camaraderie, the two teens had very different personalities. Both were viewed as very intelligent, but while Kevin was outgoing and cheerful, Kreider—who favored black T-shirts and jeans, was on the school rifle team and was a kung fu enthusiast—could be reserved, even sullen. "He was always pessimistic about life," says Hoh. "He would respond quickly with a backhanded comment if you said something that rubbed him the wrong way. He always had a dark personality."
Thus it did not surprise students at the high school that Kreider seemed to be in turmoil over Kevin's death. To cheer him up after the murders, three girls at the school formed a Happy Club with him as a lark. In appreciation he gave each of them flowers as a token of friendship. The efforts to brighten his day apparently didn't have the intended result. On June 5, the week before the arrest, police responded to Kreider's mother's home—his parents are divorced—after he threatened to commit suicide with a gun. (According to a police report, he was taken into custody and involuntarily committed for observation.) On the evening that Timothy Kreider evidently disclosed to police what his son had told him, a neighbor saw father and son embracing outside mother Angela's house. Despite the arrest, some people in the community sounded as if they were not resting any easier. One unnerving possibility—that a wanton killer was on the loose in town—had been replaced by another: that a seemingly ordinary teenager had murdered a close friend. "It's an unbelievable thing that happened," says Laura Humbard. "Everybody is just confused and scared."